A worrying number of dentists are intending to leave the NHS within the next five years.
Responding to the NHS Confidence Monitor survey, 70 per cent of dentists said they did not see themselves working in the health service in five years’ time. Of the 70 per cent, just over a quarter said they planned on leaving dentistry behind altogether.
The shock figures highlight the level of dissatisfaction within the industry, particularly with regards to working in the NHS. The root causes of this discontent stem from issues such as pay, hours and an inability to provide a level of care that meets their standards.
Separate research by the British Dental Association (BDA), undertaken last year, showed similar results, with 58 per cent of respondents saying they would leave the NHS in the next five years.
More worryingly, the study showed that 53 per cent of young NHS dentists – those falling into the under-35 age group – were also intending to desert the NHS before 2023.
The haemorrhaging of the young and newly qualified poses serious questions as to how the service can be maintained.
The potential catastrophe facing dentistry is part of a wider problem faced by the NHS as a whole. Similar shock figures have been released concerning GPs and nurses, which suggests the current underfunding that has resulted in headlines decrying a ‘crisis-hit NHS’ could be taking its toll.
The BDA’s Chair of General Dental Practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said at the time of the BDA study: “A suffocating contract system tells dentists from day one that Government targets matter more than improving the oral health of their patients. We urgently require a new system that recognizes and rewards prevention.
“The traditional career path for high street NHS dentists has gone, and until government can offer a viable alternative this brain drain will continue.”